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Stale Suburban Indie Reheats Clichés, Adds Extra Cheese

Mannered jabbering: Sparks and Embry
photo: IFC Films
Mannered jabbering: Sparks and Embry

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Pizza
Written and directed by Mark Christopher
IFC, opens January 20, IFC Center

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An ugly-duckling fable populated with grotesques out of John Waters, Pizza attempts an unlikely mode: earnest camp. Obese, bespectacled, and painfully sure of herself, Cara-Ethyl (Kylie Sparks) is a kindred spirit to Todd Solondz's Dawn Wiener, plus a helium voice and minus self-consciousness. Every phrase she utters seems deliberately mangled. She's turning 18 "at the cock's crow," but naturally, only her imaginary friend has shown up to the party. Out of the blue, a pizza deliveryman (Ethan Embry) invites Cara-Ethyl to ride shotgun on his rounds. Is this guy a pedophile? A saint? An all-around cool dude with time to spare and a van to show off? Their trip constitutes a cross section of suburbia as previously conceived by Lynch, K. Smith, and Gallo: slovenly roommates, a handicapped Irishwoman, an unbalanced drama teacher, and the local Heathers—none served well by the slapdash DV, perhaps director Mark Christopher's penance for the disco glitz of 54. What all this mannered jabbering adds up to is unclear, though one inarguable moral is that pizza tastes good. Forget 30-minute delivery—this brand of indie quirkiness congealed in the late '90s.

 
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